Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake (It's a Canadian Thing)

Nanaimo Bar Cheesecake (It's a Canadian Thing)


5 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 Tbsp sugar
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/3 cup chopped pecans/walnuts
1/3 cup flaked coconut

2 - 8 oz pkg cream cheese
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup heavy cream or half & half
2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp Bird's Custard Powder
1 egg
1 egg yolk

Chocolate Ganache Topping
1/3 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chocolate chips or pieces (4 1/2 oz)
1/2 tsp vanilla


These amounts and cook times are for a 7” cheesecake pan. Adjusted times for other pan sizes and filling amounts are included below. Do not line the side of the pan with parchment paper. It buckles and mars the edge. Lining the bottom with parchment is optional. I prefer to spray the pan with baking spray. No need to cover the cheesecake with tin foil, either.

*Regarding Custard Powder: Bird's Custard Powder is an unsweetened cornstarch-based product available at Walmart and on Amazon. If you can't find it, use plain cornstarch and 3 - 4 drops of yellow food colouring.

IMPORTANT: Warm the cream cheese first. Trust me on this. It's much easier to blend if it's warmer than room temperature. This trick is much faster than leaving it on the counter for hours - it only takes 15 minutes. Put the wrapped cream cheese in a ziplock bag, but don't seal it. Push it into a sink or bowl full of hot tap water to force the air out and then seal the ziplock top. Weight it down with a plate. In 15 minutes it will be very soft and easy to blend. 


This crust is quite a bit thicker than other cheesecake crusts. Mix ingredients with a fork and gently press it in the bottom of the pan, not up the sides for this recipe. Put it in the fridge or freezer to set the butter or if you prefer, bake it at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, then cool completely.


Mix all ingredients except the egg and egg yolk until completely smooth. Add the eggs and mix just until incorporated. Don’t overbeat it once the eggs are in. Pour into the prepared crust.

Put 1 cup water in the Instant Pot (1 1/2 cups in an 8-quart IP). Place the cheesecake on the trivet. Close the lid and set the valve to Sealing. Press Pressure Cook (or Manual) and use the
+ or – button to get to 31 minutes for a 7-inch pan. 


6-inch pan --- 34 minutes

7-inch pan --- 31 minutes

8-inch pan --- 28 minutes

4-inch pans or Individual ramekins or mason jars --- 12 minutes

For 1 1/2 times the recipe (filling only; crust and topping remain the same):

7–inch pan --- 35 minutes (may not all fit – leave 1/4” empty at the top)

8-inch pan --- 32 minutes

For double the recipe (filling only; crust and topping remain the same):

8-inch pan --- 36 minutes

When it beeps that it's done, leave it for a 15-minute natural release. Then flip the valve to Venting to release any remaining pressure. When the pin drops, open the pot and take out the cheesecake.

It may appear "jiggly." Don't worry. It will firm up as it chills. It may have some water on the surface. Gently blot the water off with paper towels.

Let it cool on the counter for an hour. Then cover with plastic wrap or a plate and chill for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.

When completely chilled, blot any trace of condensation off the top. Run hot tap water over a tea towel, wring it out and wrap it around the pan for 30 seconds, then run a thin knife around the edge. Fold the tea towel in four and reheat it under hot water again. Set the cheesecake on it for 30-60 seconds to melt the butter on the bottom of the crust, making it easy to release.

If using a push pan, put it on top of a can or jar and slowly pull the outer ring straight down. Use a thin knife or spatula to remove the bottom of the pan and put the cheesecake on a serving plate, ready for its crowning glory, the ganache.  


Heat the cream in the microwave until piping hot but not boiling. Pour over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute or two. Stir until completely smooth and then add the vanilla.

Pour over the chilled cheesecake and smooth the top. Drag the bottom of a teaspoon across it in parallel lines if you want the classic presentation.  Sing Oh Canada before the first bite.